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Chelsea stars could have helped Hodgson

Roy Hodgson's decision not to take Chelsea duo Ashley Cole or John Terry to the World Cup may cost him his job, says Blue FanZoner Gus Alexiou.

Last Updated: 29/06/14 at 18:00 Post Comment

Ashley Cole: Should have been in Roy Hodgson's England plans

Ashley Cole: Should have been in Roy Hodgson's England plans

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As we move into the business end of the World Cup and settle down to watch the drama unfold with England's abject showing an increasingly distant memory, questions have been and will inevitably continue to be asked about the future of Roy Hodgson.

With football being a game of such fine margins, a coach is always to some extent a hostage to fortune; however he can and should be judged on the big decisions for which he has had plenty of thinking time. The decision not to include Ashley Cole in the England squad and not to recall John Terry was quite simply an exceptionally poor one.

By drafting in those two to slot in alongside Gary Cahill, Hodgson could largely have comprised his back line with last season's meanest Premier League defence. A unit that plays together week in, week out, drilled by one of the finest tacticians in world football in Jose Mourinho and brimming with Champions League experience.

Going into the tournament expectations were quite low. Not as low as a pathetic haul of one point out of nine it must be said, nevertheless there seemed to be a yearning for evolution towards a more youthful attacking style. Yet for the purposes of this tournament, would a solid defence not have represented the perfect base from which to build from? Could it not even have given the younger, pacier players playing in front of it more confidence to play off the leash?

Had the decision not to take Ashley Cole been made in February it would have been understandable. He wasn't getting a game for Chelsea and had been replaced at left back by a right back playing out of position in Cesar Azpilicueta. However he returned to the Chelsea side towards the end of the season and put in a number of stellar performances including the shut outs away to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and the title defining game at Anfield. In Cole Hodgson could have had the best of both worlds in a player that was generally well rested from not having played a full season and match sharp coming into the tournament.

With regard to John Terry, there were obviously a more complicated set of circumstances which were inescapably entangled with the sorry affair that was the Anton Ferdinand racist abuse allegations. Of course racism of any kind must be taken very seriously but Terry more than served his punishment after his four match suspension and £220,000 fine despite being acquitted in a court of law.

On purely footballing grounds, Terry's exceptional form last season warranted Hodgson at the very least sounding him out over a return to the international scene. Like Ashley Cole, at a different time, the balance of considerations would probably have swung against such a move. Towards the end of the previous season Terry had been largely frozen out by caretaker boss Rafael Benitez. However he shone last season playing alongside Cahill and under the stewardship of his old mentor Jose Mourinho. One has to wonder if Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez would have had such joy from headed goals if Terry had been there to command the England box in a similar way.

On balance Hodgson should go not just because he has got these key decisions wrong but because of the fundamental flaws in the philosophy that underpins them. I am all for long term planning and developing young players but a World Cup is not the time and place to do it. These tournaments are too precious and come around too rarely not to pick the very highest quality available to you. There is clearly an appetite for out with the old and in with the new amongst England fans but they needn't worry nature will take its course - the likes of Terry, Cole and indeed Frank Lampard are coming towards the end of the careers anyway.

England simply need to be more pragmatic both on and off the pitch. The fans and media have created this false storyline over the past decade or so, that of the "golden generation" destined to finally realise the dream of football coming home and end thirty years of hurt.

The encouragement of Roy Hodgson's new broom was based around our golden boys having let us down one too many times. Football fans are allowed to dream but it's the manager's job to appreciate that football is not played in the newspaper columns or on song sheets and to put the very best players where they belong, out on the pitch.

You can follow Gus on Twitter @GusAlexiou - and don't forget to follow @FanZone on Twitter for links to all the latest blogs.

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